March 14, 2020
I am writing to you as Western, our State, and our world address the many challenges posed by COVID-19. In the coming weeks, the ways many of us connect with one another will be different from what we are accustomed to. Please know that while I will be working remotely to the extent possible, our incredible community of LGBTQ+ people and fierce allies here at Western is always at the core of my work. I am here for you. You can reach me by email or phone, and I am happy to schedule times to connect via video conference or a call.
As I’ve thought about communicating with you in recent days, two topics have come continually to mind. First, at this time of uncertainty, we must be especially vigilant about rejecting racist and xenophobic words and actions. As over 100 LGBTQ+ organizations wrote earlier this week, “LGBTQ+ communities are very familiar with the phenomena of stigma and epidemics.” Wherever you are, please remember that bias and misinformation are unconscionable and cause great harm.
Second, we’ve read a lot about social distancing as an important action we can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. But for some LGBTQ+ young adults, social distancing may also mean spending more time than usual with family of origin and no time engaging in-person with other LGBTQ+ people. Time with LGBTQ+ community can be affirming and life-giving, so it can be beneficial to think about how to care for yourself – including maintaining positive social connections – while practicing social distancing. Here are a few ideas:
- Reach out to say hello and express care for one another, and to ask for connection when you need it.
- Routine during times of disruption can be helpful. You might even make a reminder in your phone or planner prompting you to text a friend or search for a daily dose of queer awesomeness online, like those provided by GLAAD’s amp and NEON projects.
- Use online technology like Google Hangouts to talk live with groups of friends.
- If there are times when aspects of your identity aren’t seen, respected, or valued, remember that you know best who you are (and that this is true even if you’re still figuring out who you are!). Your whole self is real and beautiful. Come back to this refrain as needed. It’s true.
- If you’re concerned about spending prolonged time with people who do not support all of your fabulous self, consider these self-care tips from the Trevor Project. Trans Lifeline’s Peer Support Hotline can be another source of support.
- Bring some queer culture to your 20 second handwashing with these song ideas.
I am fortunate to often witness the ways you act with love for yourselves and one another in our Western community. In the coming weeks, we all have opportunities to bring queer ingenuity to how we connect and offer care. And when in-person classes and gatherings resume, there will be many of us here to share caring space with you. Be well, and be in touch.